Action and Passion

Philosophical Topics 42 (1):13-42 (2014)
When an agent intentionally changes something separate from herself—when, say, she opens a bottle—what is the relation between what the agent does and what the patient suffers? This paper defends the Aristotelian thesis that action is to passion as the road from Thebes to Athens is to the road from Athens to Thebes: they are two aspects of a single material reality. Philosophers of action tend to think otherwise. It is generally taken for granted that intentional transactions must be analyzed in terms of a causal relation. Controversy surrounds the question what the causal relata are: event-causalists claim that both of the relata are events; agent-causalists claim that the first relatum is an agent, and they dispute among themselves whether the second is an event or a terminal state of the patient. But the entire controversy assumes the necessity of some causal analysis of transactions. This paper argues that, far from being necessary, no such analysis is even possible.
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  General Interest  Philosophy of Mind
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ISBN(s) 0276-2080
DOI 10.5840/philtopics20144212
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